Jewish Community President in Germany calls shooting in Halle shocking

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 10, 2019   •   146

The President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany Josef Schuster speaks during a commemoration event at the synagogue Rykestrasse in Berlin, Germany, 09 November 2018.  EPA-EFE/CLEMENS BILAN

The President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, called the synagogue shooting in Halle shocking and criticized the lack of protection of the synagogue by local authorities.

“We have not experienced an incident of this kind ever before in Germany. It shows that right-wing extremism is not only some kind of political development, but that it is highly dangerous and exactly the kind of danger that we have always warned against”, Schuster said on Wednesday (October 9).

He also called for a better protection of the Jewish community in general.

Two people were killed in shooting attacks on a synagogue and a kebab bistro in the eastern German city of Halle and one suspect was arrested, but two others fled in a hijacked a car, officials said.

The violence occurred on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the calendar in Judaism when Jews fast, seeking atonement.—Reuters

Two killed in shooting in eastern German city of Halle -police

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 10, 2019

A screenshot of a video shows the suspected neo-Nazi Stephan Balliet with a rifle in Halle, Germany, 09 October 2019 (issued 10 October 2019). According to the police, two people were killed and two injured in the Rampage in the East German federal state of Saxony-Anhalt. Media report that Balliet streamed the attack on an internet live stream. EPA-EFE/ANDREAS SPLETT

Two people were killed in a shooting in the eastern German city of Halle on Wednesday (October 9).

Authorities arrested an alleged perpetrator who was dressed in combat garb including a helmet.

German local media said the shooting took place in front of a synagogue, and that a hand grenade was also thrown into a Jewish cemetery.

An eyewitness told reporters that someone had also fired shots into a kebab bistro in Halle.

The violence occurred on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in Judaism when Jews fast for 25 hours, seeking atonement.

An unnamed eyewitness told local media that the assailant at the synagogue was dressed in combat gear including a helmet, and had thrown several explosive devices into the cemetery.

The mayor of the eastern German town of Landsberg said that two people suspected of carrying out a deadly shooting attack in the area had hijacked a car and were on a motorway that leads to Munich.

Anja Werner made the comments after two people were killed in a shooting in the eastern city of Halle and a second shooting incident was reported in nearby Landsberg.

Police did not immediately confirm the media reports associating the gunfire and grenade attack with Jewish targets.

Anti-Semitism is an especially sensitive issue in Germany, which during World War Two was responsible for the genocide of 6 million Jews in the Nazi Holocaust.

Despite comprehensive de-Nazification in the post-war era, fears of resurgent anti-Semitic hatred have never completely gone away, whether from the fringe, far-right neo-Nazis or more recently from Muslim immigrants.

Occasional past attacks have ranged from the scrawling of Nazi swastikas on gravestones to firebombings at synagogues and even several murders. In recent years, cases of assault or verbal abuse, in some cases directed against people wearing traditional Jewish skullcaps, have raised an outcry.—Reuters

Microplastics contaminating air, scientists warn

Robie de Guzman   •   August 16, 2019

German and Swiss scientists have published a study suggesting that microplastic is being blown vast distances through the air and dumped when it snows, underscoring the threat the growing form of pollution poses to marine life in even the remotest waters on the planet.

The team, from the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), analyzed snow samples in Germany, the Swiss Alps and on the Norwegian Arctic archipelago of Svalbard to confirm that the snow in all places contained high concentrations of plastic fragments, known as microplastic.

“It’s readily apparent that the majority of the microplastic in the snow comes from the air,” lead researcher Melanie Bergmann said in a press release.

The highest concentration in samples was collected in a rural area in Germany’s southern province of Bavaria, totaling to 154,000 particles per liter. The snow in the Arctic contained up to 14,400 particles per liter in comparison.

Researchers found particles of nitrile rubber, acrylates and paints containing plastics in their snow samples.

The study, published on Wednesday (August 14), is reinforced by research conducted by a U.S.-led team of scientists in the Northwest Passage. The team found the material trapped in ice taken from Lancaster Sound, an isolated stretch of water in the Canadian Arctic, which they had assumed might be relatively sheltered from drifting plastic pollution.

Eighteen ice cores of up to 2 meters (6.5 feet) long were drawn from four locations, containing visible plastic beads and filaments of various shapes and sizes.

The plastic fragments serve to highlight how the waste problem has reached epidemic proportions.

The United Nations estimates that 100 million tonnes of plastic have been dumped in the oceans to date. (REUTERS)

(Production: Barbara Woolsey)

Germany’s Merkel seen shaking for second time this month

Robie de Guzman   •   June 27, 2019

GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL SHAKING DURING INAUGURATION CEREMONY FOR NEW JUSTICE MINISTER AND DURING RECENT VISIT BY UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKIY/ courtesy Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was seen shaking as she met President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Thursday, her second such bout within two weeks, but her spokesman said she was fine.

Merkel, 64, was attending a farewell ceremony for Justice Minister Katharina Barley, who is leaving to become a lawmaker in the European Parliament.

The spokesman said Merkel would take part later in the swearing-in of the new justice minister.

On June 18, Merkel was also seen shaking when she met visiting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy but later said she felt better after drinking some water.

Asked if the chancellor would take part in this weekend’s G20 meeting in Japan, the spokesman said by telephone that “everything is taking place as planned. The chancellor is well.”

Merkel appeared her usual self when she fielded questions from lawmakers during an hour-long session in parliament on Wednesday, shortly after which she gave a speech at the Humboldt University of Berlin.

The chancellor faces a gruelling schedule in the coming days.

Later on Thursday, she flies to Japan for the G20 meeting before heading to Brussels for an EU summit on Sunday at which she will play a key role in trying to seal a deal on the distribution of the bloc’s top jobs for the next five years. (REUTERS)

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